William Tong completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) at the University of Sydney, and is currently a postgraduate teaching fellow in the School of Mathematics and Statistics. He is working closely with athletes to improve sporting performance.
“My research is about modelling and optimising the twisting somersault for platform divers, but the work could also be applied to trampolinists, gymnasts or aerial skiers,” he says.
William is collaborating with the NSW Institute of Sport and working with several Olympic athletes. “I measure and collect divers’ somersaulting data and compare it to my mathematical model. If the reality and theoretical results are similar, I can use my model to discover new maneuvers for a particular dive or maybe even a completely new dive. This type of research could even increase the chances of another gold medal at the Olympics,” William enthuses.
William explains that a key advantage of an undergraduate science degree at Sydney is the capability to apply it to many – often unexpected – areas, like sport. “You don't need to be sporty to get into sports! With your science knowledge and the ability to progress and adapt, it can take you beyond the confines of science and into the real world. Once you learn how to apply the theory to real-life applications, you begin to see things in a new light.”
William believes that sport is an area where scientific knowledge is critical. “There are areas which require ongoing research, teaching methods that could be refined and equipment that can be improved to guide the next Olympian,” he explains.
William says that his undergraduate degree has given him a strong base for several careers. “My degree may lead me to a sport scientist position, or I could become an academic, or I could work in engineering or IT. Once I finish my diving research I may study other sports to see how we can improve techniques and performance. There are so many possibilities,” he says.
“Science can lead you in many exciting directions. Even though you may not see the big picture when you start, the undergraduate steps will eventually lead you there.”